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Norwegians, Mexicans celebrate their heritages at regional events

WILLMAR -- Two ethnic groups will celebrate significant dates in their history with festivals in the area this weekend.

Syttende Mai recognizes Norway's May 17 declaration of independence and the triumph of constitutional government.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

The fifth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Willmar Middle School on Willmar Avenue. Admission is free.

The day will include live music and entertainment, including an appearance by the Aztec Dancers.

Food booths serving Mexican and American food will be available for sale.

Inflatable bouncers, a rock climbing wall and bingo will be available for family fun.

The event seeks to raise money for high school students headed to college. The organizing committee awards three scholarships each spring. Previous scholarship recipients have been invited to the celebration this year so that sponsors can meet the people they are benefiting, said Claudia Trevino of the organizing committee.

Two of the big attractions of the day will be the jalapeno eating contest at 3:30 p.m. and the Willmar Idol contest at 4 p.m.

Both contests are open to anyone and everyone from the community, Trevino said. "If you're not getting entertained, you can join one of the contests and be part of the entertainment," she said.

Several Syttende Mai celebrations are planned in the area in the coming days.

The Norway Lake Lutheran Historical Association Syttende Mai banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at First Lutheran Church of Norway Lake on County Road 40. There will be music by Aani Onnen from Dassel. A freewill donation will be accepted.

The annual Taste of Syttende Mai celebration is from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Milan.

The Little Norwegian Church service is at 9:30 a.m. at Kviteseid Lutheran Church. The program will be at 1:30 p.m. followed by the Uff-da parade at 2 p.m.

There will be children's events, rosemaling displays, musicians and dancers, street vendors and the Smorgass tea of Norwegian foods at Kviteseid Lutheran Church.

A Syttende Mai celebration featuring the Dassel Folk Dancers will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church in Benson. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Sunburg's annual Syttende Mai celebration will be May 22. It begins with a non-denominational church service at 10:15 a.m. and events run through 7 p.m.

The antique tractor pull begins at 11 a.m. followed by a town team baseball game at noon. The parade is at 3:30 p.m. and the firemen's supper is from 4 to 7 p.m.

Throughout the day there will be vendors at the community center, car display, music and demonstrations at Kultur Hus and several food stands. The day will end with music from 5 to 7 p.m. at the fire hall.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340